Emmanuel Monzon is a photographer and visual artist based in Seattle, WA. He graduated from the Academy of Beaux-Arts in Paris, France with honors. His work has been featured throughout the US, Europe and Asia (through exhibitions, selections and various awards). Through his work, he explores and questions the signs of urban sprawl in our visual field. His photographic process is being influenced by his background as a plastic artist.
COLLECTION: Karlheinz Essl, founder of the ESSL Museum.
Through my urban sprawl series, I want to photograph the in-between state found in the American landscape. So I capture places of transition, borders, passages from one world to another: am I leaving a city or entering a new environment? "There are several common threads woven throughout Emmanuel’s photography. First, he only uses square frames to create a strong focus on the subject, and second, his photos always contain manmade structures or objects, but never any actual people. These two elements combine to cause viewers to perceive a deep void in the photos; an almost post-apocalyptic sense of isolation. By displaying structures humans built to serve their own needs, but in a rare state of absolute idleness, Emmanuel creates an eerily disconcerting environment. Looking at the photos, you can almost hear the chilly silence that’d accompany them." .Press. In my artwork there is no judgment, no denunciation, only the picture itself. If I could sum up the common theme of my photos, it would be about emptiness, about silence. My pictures try to extract from the mundane urban landscape a form of estheticism. Where most people only pass through, I stop and look for some form of poetic beauty. I like repetition, I like series, and I like driving around.
"Trained as a painter, Emmanuel Monzon is mindful of the grey texture of his photographs. His empty landscapes reflect his attachment to forms and colours, giving them space to be heard. To me, the series exhibited at Charbon art Space echoes both the human loneliness and the power of things against a lost American backdrop.
This shadow looks like a calm rain of grey while one can hear the rustling leaves of the tree…"
Caroline Ha Thuc: contributor to Art Press/ Pipeline/Am Post in Hong Kong.
Feature Shoot Magazine
Haunting Visions of the Sprawling American West -
French photographer Emmanuel Monzon thinks living in the United States is like living inside a painting. In his meticulously crafted American scenes, all humans have vacated the premises, leaving behind only the background they once inhabited.
The Urban Sprawl photographs picture what the artist calls the “in-between” places on the outskirts of cities, mostly in the West. These sites are comparable to what the French anthropologist Marc Augé dubbed “non-places.” This isn’t a point on the map so much as it is the ambiguous gap separating point A from point B.
Monzon isn’t affected by the same sense of nostalgia that seems to drive so many photographers; he isn’t precious about his work, but he is painstaking and precise. His process is methodical, involving hours upon hours of driving, framing, shooting, and starting over from the beginning until everything is exactly right.
Patrick di Nola, when judging a contest for Life Farmer, wrote the following of Monzon’s images: “The blandness becomes vivid.” It’s true; in these square frames, the mundane glitters.
Monzon is serious about not projecting his emotions onto these manmade landscapes— “In my artwork there is no judgment,” he writes— but the great paradox of his work lies in the fact that the pictures are somehow filled with feeling.
The photographer says the theme that binds his images is their “emptiness.” What is absent matters just as much as what’s present, but that doesn’t mean the pictures are lonely, though they have often been described as such. No, for those who dare to find it, there’s genuine surprise and delight to be found in the void, and that’s what makes Urban Sprawl so special.